SPOILER WARNING: Do not read the below post, if you have not had the chance to read Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat just yet.
Discussion Post, Pertains Explicitly to Section Three of Part One, Entitled “Fareed and Seth.”
Question Being Discussed/ Analyzed in this Post:
1. Science emerges as something that plays a stronger role in the Vampire Chronicles. Fareed and Seth
are the representative scientists (“mad” geniuses) in this story, who the older, less scientifically-inclined vampires react with the same skepticism that 19th century readers of Frankenstein must have reacted to the machinations of the gothic tragic character of Victor Frankenstein. In The Wolf Gift, there was some classic villainy attached to the scientist character, and there was also some strange mystique behind the science in the Mayfair Witch Trilogy. Yet, the science in Prince Lestat, as seen through Fareed and Seth, in this early section, seems more complex, in terms of the ethicality of their motives behind what they’re trying to do with advancing the scientific knowledge of vampires. In this section, do you think they have more ulterior motives than they’re letting on? What do you think Anne Rice intends to do with bringing science into her story, at this point? How does she subvert/emulate the trope of “mad scientists,” as utilized in other Gothic Horror/ Fiction novels?
Science, in Gothic Novels, seen from the lens of a dubious public, finds the claims of modern science to be frightening, and powerfully dangerous/even seductive in a Faustian sense. In our modern era where science is ubiquitous, we still have a disbelieving fringe of people that vilify all modern science, due to religious reasons. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, science was utilized as a plot device, to act as a cautionary tale against the expansive realm of science, being used as a dangerous God-defying tool, in the hands someone’s whose overweening pride makes them believe they can emulate the ways of the divine.
In Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift, the scientists were the canon villains, in that they seek to experiment on the Morphenkinder in their own way. Being a classic nineteenth century Gothic adventure novel, retold in a twenty-first century setting, science does get cast as something villainous, subversive, which deprives the mystery of the Morphenkinder of any spiritual mystery. But of course, in The Wolves of Midwinter, we learn that there are a myriad number of metaphysical mysteries that cannot be contained by the evidence-based knowledge of science. There is good science, as seen throughout The Wolf Gift Chronicles, that seeks to extend knowledge of the Morphenkinder, without exposing their kind to the scrutiny of the mortal world. The same type of surreptitious science, for the use of extending knowledge for those privy to the mystery (or can be trusted with it) is seen in the Mayfair Witches, as well, with the way Anne Rice uses modern genetics to explain a possible scientific explanation for the existence of magic.
Throughout the Vampire Chronicles thus far, there has been a dearth of science, but there has been quite a lot of science in other series. Finally, we are getting some real science in Prince Lestat,even though Lestat comments that the ponderous, confused mechanics of science are entirely too much for him to entirely understand. Many have criticized the fact that Lestat would be unable to comprehend the things that Fareed and Seth are telling him, asserting that Lestat has preternatural intelligence that should be able to allow him to understood the intricacies of modern-day science. In the earlier Vampire Chronicle novels, there is a specific scene in Memnoch the Devil, where Lestat peruses the vast books of knowledge about different things about the world, while at the library in heaven. He instantly forgets this stuff, when he closes the books, acknowledging the limitations of even the preternatural mind. Also, Lestat is still subject to his upbringing in a world, where the division between the world of organic/material science, and the knowledge of immaterial/ etherical things (the metaphysical, or religious knowledge) is still indivisible, where today these things are more divided.
Smartly, Anne Rice allows this division to exist in Prince Lestat, showing a sharp awareness of just how our perception of the world is shaped by our education, even more-so than our intrinsic intelligence. This division is exemplified by the fact that the scientists working under Fareed- the human scientists, working in exchange for hope of being turned eventually into a vampire- are seen as reclusive quacks in the outside world, for being inclined to incorporate the study of seemingly mythical beings into their supposed astute scientific studies of materialist.
The most important feature of Anne Rice’s chapter, dealing with Fareed and Seth, goes beyond just the introduction of two characters, with questionable motives (Are they really working for the good of vampires, or are they trying to conceive of a generic plan for world domination, as Lestat suspects throughout this section?). This chapter delves into the post-modern nuance of Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat, dealing with a rich pastiche of immateriality and materiality. Anne Rice often utilizes the word “etheric” or “etherical,” dealing with the spirit or the emotions, when discussing the metaphysical substance of vampires, spirits, ghosts, and an array of other beings. In another post, I hope to further extrapolate on my own theory that Prince Lestat is really a direct, chronological sequel to Queen of the Damned,but it is a spiritual,metaphorical sequel to Memnoch the Devil,as it deals principally with the relationship between the material world and the immaterial world:; science and pseudoscience; or speculative fiction that is really a rich hybrid of both elements of some science, with elements of fantastical fictitious science (metaphysics or pseudoscience).
So the question this section really prompts for the careful reader of Prince Lestat is What is the purpose of pseudoscience (or the scientific study of metaphysics, relegated to the quackery department in academia)? Even though Lestat and the reader, at this point, want to believe that Fareed and Seth have ulterior motives (of the world-domination, early-turn-of-the-century mad scientist sort), is Lestat projecting his doubts that science is capable of plumbing the depths of the metaphysical, or is this a division that a late eighteenth century vampire sees as insensible?
What do you think about all of this? I really hope to further discuss this and other questions on the upcoming Lestat Book Coven Prince Lestat Live Chat #1 (being broadcast through Google Hangout on Air) . (Be sure to RSVP for the chat, on the page that the hyper-linked text redirects you to) The broadcast will be this coming Sunday, December 7th at 3pm. Eastern Standard Time, to 4pm. Eastern Standard Time.
If you wish to discuss the contents of the post above,you can do so by (1) leaving a comment below, or (2) Discussing it with 2,300+ members of the Lestat Book Coven Group Page on Facebook.
For next week’s reading assignment, read from pg. 32/33- 74/75 (depending on the version you have of Prince Lestat) Simply put, read the last section, entitled “Trouble in the Talmasca and the Great Family), to Part 2.
There are only three questions to coincide with this reading:
1.What is the importance, in your opinion, of entitling this section Trouble in the Talmasca and the Great Family? Throughout Prince Lestat, we are going to see many interesting dichotomies of sorts, including materiality/immateriality; science/art (reason/romanticism)? What does the dichotomy of vampires/ Talmasca (on a surface level, seen as just a research of eccentricities, but really a research body into the things, seen as absurdities) represent?
2. In the Aeneid, the epic poem, written by Virgil, is both a mythic telling of the founding a Rome (a true event, in of itself), but beyond that, it includes the spiritual realm influencing these actions to occur? From reading this section, how will the spiritual realm come into play, to influence the founding of a new vampire era of sorts?
3.What do you believe is the reasons, as to why Maharet and Mekare are not even inc communication with Jessica, or the other vampires, for that matter? Why do they feel they are moribund, in terms of that they can never reach, or be relevant to the legion of new vampires, coming into their own?
3 Comments Add yours
I want to say that its not entirely clear as to whether or not Fareed and Seth have ulterior motives for the research they are performing, but that’s not entirely true seeings how they took Lestat’s fluids with the unexpressed desire to see if they could create a new life with it without ever telling him that. Kind of their way of playing Dr Frankenstein as it were only without the hideously deformed “monster” who fears fire.
It seems to me that Anne is bringing in the scientific aspect to the book as another means of trying to explain more fully as it were the reason for why and how the vampires exist. I kind if felt it was her way of trying to bring more into it than it just being metaphysical. Yeah okay so Amel entered Akasha and reanimated her in a sense, thus beginning the vampires as we know them, but HOW was he able to reanimate her? And WHY does he crave blood and only blood to exist within the host body? What makes blood the only fueling component for this spirit? Is he really a spirit as we know of them or is he something more? By adding in the scientific aspect I think Anne was trying to answer some questions most if us have probably had throughout her book series. At least they are questions that have always had me pondering their answers. While I believe that Fareed and Seth absolutely have an ulterior motive for their research into the mysteries that make up the Vampires as a species, I do not believe that they are as worrisome as the “world domination” theory.
As for the question of how they seem to fit the idea of Gothic mad scientist persona I think the evidence speaks for itself really, quite literally. Victor is in essence the very eptiome of how they for that persona. Created by taking the DNA of another (who consented to giving said DNA), used this DNA to create a life, implanted said life within a living host and gave birth to “monster” which they raised. By using vampires for scientific research despite how “richly” they were rewarded for their time, screams “Mad Scientist”. At least in my opinion it does.
Immediately I found myself feeling deeply suspicious of Seth and Fareed’s motives. It was almost a protective reflex, that in Lester’s world there is no place for science. Upon reflection, I feel as if this horrified gut reaction is the very reason that the incorporation of science and the merging of the vampire’s with medical/scientific innovation was necessary at this time. Bringing these characters to (figurative, obviously) light in 2013 and not acknowledging the growing technology in both the laboratory and the everyday life of the average person, would have been inauthentic. Mrs Rice’s characters have always been of the old, yet in the new. To ignore iPhones, email, medical advances and the like would have been a disservice to the growth of her characters and their world. I for one look forward to further exploring the constantly stimulated world in which we live through the eyes of a hyper-sensitive being. As Lestat was scary to the coven under les Innocents because he played the modern mortal, so is Fareed concerning to both readers and the older vampires themselves, as something both new and foreign. The newfound visibility that technology provides is perhaps as much a catalyst for change as the Voice is.
Immediately I found myself feeling deeply suspicious of Seth and Fareed’s motives. It was almost a protective reflex, that in Lestat’s world there is no place for science. Upon reflection, I feel as if this horrified gut reaction is the very reason that the incorporation of science and the merging of the vampire’s with medical/scientific innovation was necessary at this time. Bringing these characters to (figurative, obviously) light in 2013 and not acknowledging the growing technology in both the laboratory and the everyday life of the average person, would have been inauthentic. Mrs Rice’s characters have always been of the old, yet in the new. To ignore iPhones, email, medical advances and the like would have been a disservice to the growth of her characters and their world. I for one look forward to further exploring the constantly stimulated world in which we live through the eyes of a hyper-sensitive being. As Lestat was scary to the coven under les Innocents because he played the modern mortal, so is Fareed concerning to both readers and the older vampires themselves, as something both new and foreign. The newfound visibility that technology provides is perhaps as much a catalyst for change as the Voice is.